New infrastructure deal brings ‘hope’ for some lawmakers; What lies ahead for Kansas?

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A new bipartisan proposal for Biden’s infrastructure plan is bringing new hope for some lawmakers that an agreement can be reached soon.

“I’m at the table, I’m listening, I just hope the White House will participate,” said Kansas U.S. Senator Roger Marshall, in an interview with Kansas Capitol Bureau on Friday.

A group of bipartisan senators on Capitol Hill announced Thursday they reached an agreement on an infrastructure deal but there are still challenges ahead.

The plan cuts down on spending, calling for $579 billion in new spending as part of a package that would cost about $1.2 trillion over eight years.

Marshall is among some lawmakers that have argued against President Biden’s plans to increase spending. He said the new bill also takes an approach that would help avoid tax hikes.

“The White House’s plan has always called for raising people’s taxes to pay for it, and then they start expanding what they want in the infrastructure plan,” he said. “What I like about their plan is that there are no new taxes in this at all.”

The bipartisan infrastructure deal proposes spending $1.2 trillion over eight years on traditional infrastructure projects like updating America’s roads, bridges and rails. The agreement would not call for new taxes except for indexing the gasoline tax to inflation. Unspent pandemic funds would also be used to pay for the projects.

However, it’s unclear how the plan could impact some key areas in the state that need it most.

Back in April, a White House report graded Kansas a “C” for infrastructure. Some of the largest allocations going to housing and caregiving. According to the report, the president’s plan was set to invest $400 billion to help more people access care and improve the quality of caregiving jobs.

This could help some nursing homes in Kansas, like Oak Creek Senior Living in Topeka, that have been short-staffed during the pandemic. Winona Kegin, LPN and adult care home operator, at the residential facility said some staff members are cross-trained in other areas, having to juggle several jobs at a time.

“I’ve got some very devoted staff that will help work 12–14-hour days, 5 days in a row,” Kegin said.

Some long-term care officials argue more money could help them continue to provide quality care to those in need, allowing them to buy more supplies and hire workers.

“There’s rates that we had to pay during the pandemic to get staff, they’re never going back to where they were,” said Linda Mowbray, President of the Kansas Health Care Association.

Marshall said the plan would still provide for areas that are struggling, or in dire need of help.

“We always get the short end of the stick,” Marshall said. “I think that this targets what really needs to be addressed.”

The plan has received pushback from some democrats that refuse to waiver on other priorities that were mentioned in Biden’s initial proposal, like climate change, rural broadband, and child care.

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